Olivia’s mum, Andrea tells us Olivia’s story
Olivia was only 3.5 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia A.L.L. She had been poorly for just over a week & after a trip to the out of hours doctors, she was given antibiotics for a chest infection. Her main symptom was a temperature & she was looking paler. After completing a 5-day course of the antibiotics prescribed I wasn’t happy, she seemed more tired & had developed a limp. I returned to my own GP that day and relayed my concerns at first he wanted to give her another course of antibiotics but I just wasn’t happy so I requested blood to be done. I am a physiotherapist myself so I do have a background of medical knowledge so I pushed for further investigations. Thankfully the GP listened & sent us straight to Treehouse at Stepping Hill Hospital. Olivia was assessed, bloods taken & a chest x-ray was done. On examination, they found a small bruise on the outside of her thigh & I just knew at this point it was serious from the questions & actions. Within hours we had a likely diagnosis of leukaemia. Olivia needed 2 blood transfusions & a platelet transfusion that night before being transferred by ambulance to Royal Manchester Children’s hospital the next day.
We had sister Charlotte 7 months old when Olivia was diagnosed life literally was torn apart.
We spent 5 solid weeks onward 84 at Manchester after being first diagnosed. Thankfully we had a room at the Ronald MacDonald house as we needed to stay together as a family……and I just couldn’t bear the thought of coming home to see her bedroom without her.
After the 5 week induction on regiment A, she had an MRD test…..residual disease test where unfortunately her markers were too high so she was moved to Regiment C meaning she has received the strongest chemotherapy they can give to treat A.L.L.
Treatment for girls with A.L.L is 2.5 years long. (For boys it is a full year of maintenance longer). During treatment, she had to have an NG tube for a short period due to loss of appetite and weight loss. On the whole, she coped well with treatment but it was harsh and she had tummy aches, hair loss, fatigue, sickness just to name a few.
Olivia was diagnosed on May 29th 2015. She completed the intensive phase of her treatment and started the maintenance phase on her 4th birthday 4th Feb 2016.
Once on maintenance she still had daily oral chemotherapy, weekly methotrexate & a stronger bolus IV chemo every 4 weeks followed by 5 days of steroids so it was still a tough schedule but she was able to have her Hickman line out and life was able to regain some normality.
Olivia completed treatment for ALL & rang the bell on Nov 2017. She now attends every 6 weeks for review. Thankfully she doesn’t seem to be suffering with too many late effects at the moment. Her mobility has returned to near that of her peers now chemotherapy has stopped. Her hair is growing and her skin that was initially very sensitive after stopping chemotherapy is clearing. She seems to be coping with the demands of full-time school. We are trying to live a normal family life & we pray that her leukaemia stays forever in remission & that as she grows she doesn’t suffer from any late effects of the chemotherapy. Only time will tell but for now, we stay positive x